Friday, February 15, 2013

World War I - Day 15 of the Family History Writing Challenge

Martha’s letters were written in 1918 and 1919. The war had been going for a while but the Selective Draft Act was not enacted until May 18, 1917. The Selective Draft Act was canceled in November 1918 at the end of the war.

Fortunately, for the family in Sneedville, there were no lives lost. Victor, Floyd, and William all registered for the third registration held on September 12, 1918. The first two drafts were for younger men up to the age of 31. The law was amended and the third draft allowed men up to the age of 45. While all of Martha’s boys registered, none were called to serve.

We have draft records for all three. The registrar in Sneedville was more diligent in his completion of the forms. In Montana, they were not quite as meticulous.

Victor registered at the age of 38 on September 12, 1918. He listed his address as Sneedville, Tennessee. It says he was married to Cornie and his occupation as a farmer. He was of medium height and weight with blue eyes and brown hair.

Floyd registered at the age of 45 on September 12, 1918. He listed his address as Sneedville, Tennessee. It says he was married to Elisa and his occupation as a farmer. He was also of medium build and height with blue eyes and brown hair.

William registered at the age of 36 on September 12, 1918. He listed his address as 104 So. 28th in Billings, Montana. I know he and my grandma lived at 124 No. 24th Street when I was a child so in 1918, they had not built the house yet. He was married to Mellie. He was of slim build and tall but no eye or hair colors were listed. His occupation was a mailman for the railroad. That’s another story too about how he was the one who hung the mailbags of the post for the trains to snag as they came by.

Martha writes on November 22, 1918:

“Surely you are rejoycing over the awful slaughter ending. Did you get questionnaire, Victor didn’t.”

(The World War I questionnaire project (Record Group 239) was part of an effort to gather and preserve the history of Tennessee's involvement in what was then known as the Great War.

She writes again on November 25, 1918:

“Nellie, I am so glad Peace is made. Surely every person in the world is thankful. I suppose Roy Hatfield and Leona's boys are living, was the last I heard.”

As an aside, my grandmother’s name was Mellie. I don’t know if she purposely writes her name incorrectly or not. I am of the opinion that they would not have gotten along living in the same place so I have to wonder about the use of the name. I have the original letters so I know that it was not transcribed incorrectly.

On the letter dated January 1, 1919, she write again:
“I hope Peace will soon be made and made forever. Leonas and Dellas boys all right since the armstice was signed. dont know when they will be at home, Perhaps not soon. Roy Hatfield says he is homesick.”
The timeline for the wars states that on November 11, 1918, Germany signed the Armistice at Compiegne, France. The fighting is to end on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

On June 28, 1919, the Treaty of Versailles ends World War I officially. (

1 comment:

  1. That had to be such a tough war, Ann. I have a Christmas movie about how a bunch of them stopped fighting in the middle of a battlefield on Christmas night, to remember Christ was born. I forget the name of it off the top of my head, but it is such a good movie, and watching it gave me new appreciation for those who fought in WWI. Thanks for sharing this.